When Azerbaijan decided to build a world-class stadium in the capital city of Baku, the owners gave the design and construction team an extremely aggressive 24-month deadline. The owner-the state oil company of the Azerbaijan Republic, a former Soviet state-assembled an all-star international design and construction team. Heerim Architects & Planners from Seoul, South Korea, led design, working closely with U.S. structural engineer Thornton Tomasetti and Turkish general contractor Tefken Construction. Other key firms on the team hailed from Greece, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and Spain.

Using 3D building information modeling to execute a game plan based on parallel design and construction with an architect in South Korea, a structural designer in New York, engineers and contractors in Istanbul, a construction site in Azerbaijan, and detailing and 3D modeling in Turkey, the team met the ultimate challenge: delivering a sparkling 68,000-seat, $640-million stadium for the inaugural European Games, in June 2015.

Baku, situated on the seismically active Absheron Peninsula, means "city where the wind pounds," says Hi Sun Choi, senior principal engineer with Thorton Tomasetti. "As such, the stadium was designed for the severe seismic loads, similar to California's, and the very high wind loads, similar to the coastal region of Alaska."

The judges cited the team's on-time, on-schedule conversion of a rubble-filled, 650-sq-meter site on the shore of Boyukshor Lake into a signature sports and entertainment venue that conforms to the standards set by the international football association's governing bodies.

The panel also praised the use of third-party inspection, saying, "All work was inspected at every stage of construction by the client."

The judges also said the completed stadium, which evokes iconic fire and wind imagery, "will serve as an urban landmark and multi- cultural landmark for the people of Baku."

Project Team

Contractor: Tekfen Construction and Installation Co.

Owner: State Oil Co. of the Azerbaijan Republic, Baku

Lead Design: Heerim Architects & Planners Co.

Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti

MEP Engineer: Woowon M&E

Structural Steel, BIM: Structural Detail Designers; Tefken Engineering